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Morning All. Your fence jokes are welcome in the comments: Vincent Gray was the victim of an attempted burglary of his Hillcrest home yesterday, telling City Desk’s Michael Grass that the would-be perps did not reach any valuables (like keepsakes from his time in Sharon Pratt’s administration or first-edition tomes on government process): “They probably heard the alarm and I guess they took off. … They never got in. I don’t know who did this this, but I don’t put aside any possibility to tell you the truth.” First, thieves rob bikes from Mayor Fenty’s home and now this. Leo Alexander should think about upgrading his home security system.
INSURANCE FUND PROBE: The Examiner’s Bill Myers files another important story in the growing insurance-fund issue which is now being investigated by the F.B.I. and other lawmen. Myers reports that Fenty and Co. knew about the problems with the fund three years ago: “The Fenty administration was warned three years ago that there were problems in a city workers’ compensation fund that is now the center of at least four investigations, The Washington Examiner has learned. Last week, Fenty and his attorney general, Peter Nickles, conceded that workers had been paying for insurance but the city’s Office of Risk Management wasn’t forwarding the money on to insurance companies. The pair asked Inspector General Charles Willoughby to investigate. Nickles and Fenty claimed at the news conference that they discovered the problem last month. ‘So we started, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since that point in late May to look into this matter,’ Nickles said.”
Nickles is either wrong or confused or lying. Myers reports: “In April 2007, Willoughby sent a report to Fenty and city leaders. He warned Fenty that Risk Management and its insurance contractor ‘lacked procedures to account for claimant’s health and/or life insurance benefits.’ ‘As a result,’ Willoughby’s report states, ‘claimants had no assurance that their health and/or life insurance benefits were properly accounted for or whether their health and/or life insurance coverage was active or lapsed.’ The findings were part of a larger probe that found Risk Management was ‘at risk for significant fraud, waste and abuse.’ Willoughby attributed the insurance problems ‘to a lack of policies and effective procedures,’ but his audit foreshadowed problems that are now the focus of investigations by the FBI, the D.C. auditor, the finance office’s integrity unit and, once again, Willoughby’s agency.”
AFTER THE JUMP—-MARC HELL, Fenty is tardy to Metro memorial ceremony, Health agency misconduct alleged, interesting stats on city employers, homeless now join a waiting list to get into family shelter, and much, much more!
MARC TRAIN HELL: Every Transpo agency wants in on investigating what the hell happened on Monday’s MARC train that left 900 passengers hot, bothered, and stranded. WaPo’s Katherine Shaver reports: “Ralign Wells, head of the Maryland Transit Administration, said the investigation will seek to determine why the electric locomotive broke down and why its brakes jammed, making it impossible for another locomotive to pull the train back to Union Station relatively quickly. Passengers, including some who reported trouble breathing, used emergency handles to remove the train’s windows as outside temperatures hovered at 90 degrees and the train’s air conditioning shut down. The Federal Railroad Administration will determine whether the train’s crew properly carried out emergency preparedness plans required for passenger trains, spokesman Warren Flatau said. One of the agency’s safety specialists happened to be commuting home on the stranded train, ‘so we have some firsthand knowledge,’ Flatau said. The Prince George’s County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department began getting 911 calls from stranded passengers at 7:50 p.m., after train 538 on the Penn Line had come to a stop near New Carrollton at 6:23 p.m., officials said. About 10 people were treated at the scene for heat-related problems, including profuse sweating, nausea and dizziness, said fire department spokesman Mark Brady. Three of those passengers, including one having an asthma attack, were taken to a hospital, Brady said. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) called the incident on the state’s commuter rail line ‘utterly unacceptable.’ MARC needs a better system for getting passengers off broken trains more quickly, O’Malley told reporters after an unrelated event in Baltimore.” More coverage via NBC4, WTOP.
Meanwhile, the Examiner’s Kytja Weir reports that MARC is trying to reach out to those 900 passengers who had the commute from hell: “Maryland Transit Administrator Ralign T. Wells said he planned to ride the 538 train to talk to its regular riders about what went wrong Monday evening. ‘This circumstance was unacceptable, and on behalf of all MTA employees, I apologize for the inconvenience and discomfort you experienced,’ Wells wrote in a message to riders.”
MORE MARC TROUBLES: NC8 reports MARC suffered another breakdown yesterday due to the heat: “MARC 428 on the Penn Line was departing from Union Station around 4:15 p.m. when there was a problem with the locomotive. About a half an hour later, MARC sent out word that there was a power outage in Washington. The scorching heat has taken its toll on MARC trains and their riders this week. Passenger James Sims told us, ‘Right now I’m not sure what the temperature is in here…well above a hundred.’ For a second straight day, the transit system literally shutdown under the intense high temperatures. Hundreds of people were once again stranded and confused in the midst of the sweltering heat. ‘It’s probably 103 in here… I want to get home to my boys,’ stated Elizabeth Garvey, a passenger. It’s not confirmed, but Amtrak officials tell us it appears the unforgiving heat wave has overwhelmed the electrical traction system this week which supplies power to most Marc Trains.”
METRO STILL HAS WORK TO DO: The families of the Metro crash victims marked the one-year anniversary of the tragedy yesterday. WaPo’s Ann Scott Tyson reports from the scene that many of the families are disappointed in Metro’s response in the crash’s aftermath: “Metro ‘has never acknowledged: ‘We’ve made a mistake. We’re sorry,’ ‘ said Kenneth Hawkins, whose brother, Dennis Hawkins, was killed in the crash. Tawanda Brown, mother of LaVonda “Nikki” King, 23, who died in the crash, accused Metro of shirking its responsibility and failing to resolve the underlying technical issues that contributed to the accident. ‘They are responsible for our loved one’s death,’ Brown said. ‘But they aren’t even answering the 100 problems identified by the NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board], and we’re still getting on the trains.’…Last month, Metro filed a petition in U.S. District Court to dismiss a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit filed by most of the families against the transit agency. On Tuesday, attorneys for the families were in court filing opposition to the petition, Kenneth Hawkins said. Metro’s legal stance ‘makes this day of remembrance disingenuous to say the least,’ Hawkins said. The petition ‘demonstrates the cynicism and blatant contempt [Metro] has toward the victims, families, and justice.’ The motion to dismiss was ‘partial’ and ‘a routine step in such a lawsuit,’ Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein wrote in an e-mail.” More coverage via WUSA9, WTOP, NC8. Safety still remains a top concern among Metro riders, NC8 reports in a subsequent piece.
FENTY LATE TO METRO MEMORIAL: Doesn’t this guy listen at all to his critics? WaPo’s Mike DeBonis reports that the mayor was 45 minutes late to the memorial service, and quickly left after a plaque was unveiled honoring the crash victims: “The ceremony started at 10 a.m. According to Post reporters on the scene, a phalanx of elected officials — including Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) — were seated well before the start. Fenty arrived after 10:45, after almost all of the family members had already spoken. He delivered short remarks, sat down with the rest of the officials on the dais, then left after a memorial plaque was unveiled. He did not stay for the retiring of the colors by a Metro police honor guard.” LL advises that you should read DeBonis’ full post on this episode.
HOMELESS FAMILIES: There now appears to be a waiting list to get into D.C. General’s emergency shelter.
HIRING MISCONDUCT IN D.C. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH CARE FINANCE ALLEGED: WaPo’s Tim Craig reports: “Candice Young, who worked as a human resources adviser for the agency from June 2008 until January, said she was forced to alter dozens of documents so that Director Julie Hudman could legally place friends and allies in top-level jobs within the agency. ‘I had to lie,’ said Young, who resigned in January. ‘They said, ‘I want this person,’ and I would have to go change things, but eventually I said, ‘I am not going to do this anymore.’ Hudman, who took over the agency in October 2008 after working as an adviser to then-City Administrator Dan Tangherlini, countered in an e-mailed statement that Young’s ‘allegations are untrue and without merit.’ ‘Miss Young’s claims were investigated by the District’s Department of Human Resources Compliance and Investigations Unit and they did not substantiate any of these claims,’ Hudman said in the e-mail. ‘Although we cannot comment further on personnel matters, we will continue to comply with any additional investigations.’ The allegations emerged as part of D.C. Council member Marion Barry‘s investigation into hiring practices at the agency, which was created in 2008 to oversee Medicaid and other government-sponsored health insurance programs. Barry (D-Ward 8), who sits on the Health Committee, is upset that, according to records obtained by him, only four of the top 20 jobs in the newly created agency are held by African Americans.”
OPEN-SOURCE VOTING: BOEE will debut open-source, Internet voting for oversees residents.
FUN STATS: WBJ’s Michael Neibauer digs into some awesome stats found in the District’s 180-page Comprehensive Annual Financial Report: “All but three of the city’s top 14 principal employers in 2008 were education- or health-related. Number one was Howard University, up from number four in 2000. The three non-health or education employers were Fannie Mae (standing firm at number six), The Washington Post Co. (dropping from 8th to 14th) and Admiral Security Services (up from 64th to 15th). The top 14 employed 7.4 percent of all D.C. workers. The number of volumes owned by the D.C. Public Library in 2009, 2.52 million, was its fewest since 2005 and second fewest in a decade. In 2007, the library held 3.03 million volumes — the only time it topped the 3 million mark.”
VOUCHERS: WaPo editorial board continues its crusade in support of school voucher program.
NICKLES VS. NICKLES: The Examiner’s Bill Myers points out a little irony regarding New Beginnings juvenile facility.
NO MORE SUGAR MILK: WaPo’s Mike DeBonis amplifies an earlier story in which the District finally will halt serving students flavored-milk and sugary cereals. LL didn’t even known there was a flavored milk option: “And this fall, further changes may be in order. DCPS spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway says the system’s ‘goal for this upcoming school year is to serve cereals with six grams of sugar or less. We will be taste testing low-sugar cereals, as well as other nutritious breakfast and lunch items, this summer to determine which breakfast options are both healthy and appetizing to serve to our students,’ she writes in an e-mail. The changes are part of a first wave of reforms heralding a new awareness of the poor quality of school lunches here. Ed [Bruske], for one, has done yeoman’s work via his ‘Tales From a D.C. School Kitchen’ series at The Slow Cook in showing just how lousy the food we give kids is. DCPS took a big step toward healthier lunches by hiring Jeff Mills, a ex-restaurant chef ex-restaurateur who has pledged to increase the quality of school meals. The heavy lifting is yet to come: It’s one thing to take away patently unhealthy choices from schoolkids.”
STREETCARS: NC8 covers the council debate on overhead wires.
NEW BEGINNINGS: Officials say the incident at the juvenile facility last weekend was not a riot.
ROBERT WONE: An account of Day 20 in the conspiracy trial.
MAYOR’S SCHEDULE: No public events are planned.
D.C. COUNCIL’S SCHEDULE:
10 a.m. Committee of the Whole (Hearing) Bill 18-612; Bill 18-700; Bill 18-719; Bill 18-805; Bill 18-808; Bill 18-811 Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500
1 p.m. Committee on Housing and Workforce Development (Round Table) The Workforce Investment Council and the District’s One Stops Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 412